there are probably only a few other topics in Scripture that are as controversial as what we call “the rapture of the church.” for those of you that may not be aware of this subject, let me give the basic idea…when Jesus arose from the grave He appeared to His followers over a period of a little more than a month, and after this He “ascended” into heaven. Scripture tells us that He did not die again, nor settle down somewhere and start a family…but went into the realm (or maybe “dimension”) of heaven, physically leaving this world…and all the while…making a promise…a promise of return. this has been the most anticipated event in history from the perspective of believers, and a highly debated event in terms of its details. what He made very clear was that He would physically return to this world some day and that when He did, every eye would see Him (no, i don’t know how that will work, but i believe it). then, at what many would call the “end of the age” or what-have-you, He will remake the world into its glorious, innocent, perfect form. all of this is pretty well agreed upon…it’s the transitional points that people have various opinions on and, in many cases, would unfortunately be willing to fight over. one of these transitional points is what happens to those in the world (still living a normal, every day life like you and i are today) when all of these events begin to unfold. there are many who hold that the world will go through what is called “the tribulation” and within that framework lies the debate of when the rapture will occur. “rapture” is a word that means “the catching away.” it’s taken from 1 thessalonians 4:17, where it says that we who are alive will be “caught up together…to meet the Lord in the air.” the idea of the rapture is not so much up for theological/eschatological debate as much as its timing is. many believe that the church will go through the said “tribulation time,” and the rapture is coincidental with the Second Coming (when He shows up again and everyone sees him, etc.), while many others say that He will come prior to the tribulation and catch away His followers (some believe they just disappear and are gone without a trace) and He will bring them with Him for the Second Coming when all will witness Him.
having said all of this, i want to affirm that i believe in this event in Scripture…albeit i’m not at all sure of who’s got the right interpretation of the specifics…if anyone really does. but let’s look at it a little differently for a moment…having accepted the truth of Scripture in the big picture…let’s consider a different pursuit within this subject.
here’s my thought…for all the debate, discussion, study, arguing, and…sadly…fighting…we have perhaps missed a wonderful application regarding this subject…which is that the rapture should not only be an event that we are eagerly anticipating (no matter how it occurs) but it should also be a reality we are living…
right now, we have two major emphases in our lives…the comfort of the here and now and the hope of a new world…in the future…but what if we lived right now with the hope of that new world in our hearts leading us and guiding us…making our decisions based on a fierce belief in that very hope? what if, instead of comfort or fleeting passions, we pursued objects, concepts, and relationships from the perspective that He has taken our hearts away from the pain of this present existence? what would it look like if we lived our lives within the reality of the present rapture of the church from the chains of the pain, the disorder of the world, and the darkness of humanity…it seems to me that was His very will for us…to live with hearts pumping the boiling blood of His Spirit, passionately engaging all around us with the truth of the Gospel…not debating and arguing over things that He was, at best, ambiguous about. how much change could be effected in the world if the believers in Christ would live the words that Paul spoke…”for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (philippians 1:21)…and also, “i have been crucified with Christ. it is not longer i who live, but Christ Who lives in me. and the life i now live in the flesh i live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (galatians 2:20)…paul…even though he was human and very much was still someone who had many shortcomings…seemed to “get it”…he seemed to live his life with a passion…not just a passion for going to heaven when he dies…not just a passion for a particular view of the events of the “end times”…not just a passion for debate and being right…but a passion for his changed life right there and then…a passion for the reality that his soul had been resurrected, his heart quickened, his spirit breathed life into, and his future nothing but hopeful.
many of us are caught up in the concerns of this age…whether those concerns be vocational, academic, theological, or just plain sinful. so many of us…who call ourselves by His Name…the Name above all names…the Name of the One Who gave Himself for us…the Name of our returning King…live lives that are caught away by anything but Him…we might say that we are “raptured” by the world instead of out of it…while preaching, teaching, and knowing of the truth the ways He taught us to live and think.
i believe we would do well to lay aside the debates, repent of what we need to repent of, get serious about our faith, or simply stop giving Him and His church a bad name. it’s time to be captured by the life that He put in us and act as though we understand whom we really are…His church…His people…His friends…and most importantly….His.